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Key Facts

  • Migraine affects 11% of the world’s population.
  • It is a painful headache often associated with nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, over- sensitivity to sound or light.
  • Migraine causes significant burden to the individual in terms of pain, disability, damaged quality of life and inability to work.
  • The societal burden of migraine is under-recognized, despite costing an estimated €27 billion per year in Europe alone.

 What is migraine?

Migraine is a painful and often disabling condition which is one of a number of primary headache disorders. It also occurs secondarily to a considerable number of other conditions. A wide range of headache types have been classified in detail by the International Headache Society. The most common among them are tension-type headache (TTH), migraine, cluster headache and chronic daily headache syndromes.

 The scale of the problem

Eleven percent of the world’s adult population suffer from migraine. Migraine was listed by the World Health Organization1 in 2000 as the 19th highest cause of disability (12th in women). The burden of illness is high because, whilst it affects all ages, it is most disabling to those aged 35-45 years – a productive period of life. An estimate of the total cost of migraine in Europe is €27 billion per year. Whilst this largely reflects the high indirect costs incurred in developed countries, sufficient evidence exists that migraine imposes similar levels of ill-health in all continents and in developing as well as developed countries.

Migraine fact sheet – PDF